Six members of the Hamilton Men’s Soccer team traveled to Guatemala for a service trip during winter break in January through the Guatemala Healing Hands Foundation (GHHF). They spent a week in the village of Chichoy Alto, in the region of Patzun, Chimaltenango, where they worked to help finish building the village school. With the newly constructed second floor, students entering middle school will now have adequate space to continue their education.
Alec Talsania ’17, Peter Goldsmith ’17, Harris Pollack ’17, Spenser Heller ’17, Connor Crutchfield ’17, and Erich Marcks ’16 made the trip to work with GHHF, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality and availability of health care in Guatemala through education, surgery and therapy. Specializing in the treatment of congenital and hand injuries, the organization aims to reach Guatemalan children and adults through medical missions led by a team of specialized and skilled surgeons, therapists and volunteers.
Alec Talsania’s father, Jay Talsania, has volunteered as one of the hand surgeons for many years and has been instrumental for this program’s mission. That sparked an interest among the soccer players to volunteer. Jay Talsania, along with Pollack's dad Alan and Marcks' father Jeff accompanied the soccer teammates to Guatemala.
Back in Clinton the teammates collected more than $18,000, over 200 pairs of shoes, more than 100 soccer balls, and much other soccer gear and clothing. The money will allow the construction of the school to be continued through April. The soccer gear was donated to the school and children in the village.
The team members kept a blog during their stay and Talsania summed up the week’s work in an entry on the seventh day: “What was once a vacant second floor seven days ago, now had 1500 cinder blocks on it, many piles of sand and stone, large rebar posts filled with the small rebar support squares mounted all the way to the top, new tools, piles of cement, and 4 new rows of cinderblock wall around the perimeter. I had such a proud feeling standing there and taking the sight in.
"Today’s tasks included sifting the sand, mixing cement, cutting cinderblocks in half, and laying the cinderblock wall. If the change in scenery on the second floor wasn’t enough evidence of our presence, we added a small touch to the school by painting Hamilton Soccer and putting our handprints on a section of the wall. It was a quick little project but I think that it represents the impact we had on the village of Chichoy Alto this week…”